Jack Bruce, the bass player, songwriter, and frequent lead singer for the 60s rock group Cream has died at the age of 71. Bruce, along with guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker, formed the blues-based rock group Cream, whose hits included such timeless classics as “Sunshine of Your Love,” “White Room,” and “Crossroads.”
Jack Bruce was born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 14, 1943. His parents were musicians who travelled extensively causing Bruce to attend several different schools. Bruce left Scotland at the age of 16 and in 1962 joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Inc., in London. also featuring Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.
Cream was formed in 1966, and the trio’s first album, “Fresh Cream” was one of the most challenging rock records of its time. Blues covers like “Spoonful” and “I’m So Glad” shared the disc with originals like “I Feel Free” (a UK chart hit that only appeared on the US pressing of the album) and “Toad,” which featured one of the very first extended drum solos in rock. The 1967 follow-up, “Disraeli Gears,” featured the hits “Strange Brew,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” and “Sunshine of Your Love.” At this point the band was enjoying chart success and critical approval.
Cream sold 35 million albums in just over two years and the band was awarded the world’s first ever platinum disc for their 1968 double album “Wheels of Fire.” Again mixing blues covers like Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” with originals like the hit “White Room,” this album is perhaps best remembered for the Eric Clapton cover of “Crossroads,” which contains one of the finest guitar solos in rock.
However, they chose to break up at the end of the 1960s, and did so in fine fashion with the 1969 live album entitled “Goodbye.” The band was no longer getting along personally, and no longer connecting at a creative level. All went off onto different projects, with Bruce releasing the solo album “Songs for a Tailor” in the fall of 1969.
Bruce maintained an active solo career, including fronting other bands, and continued to fuse blues, jazz and rock influences into his own innovative sound. Jack Bruce was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2003, undergoing a liver transplant. By 2004 he had recovered, and in May of 2005, he reunited with Clapton and Baker for a series of concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Bruce died of liver failure on October 25, 2014. He had continued to perform up until the time of his death, and had released a new studio album, “Silver Rails” in March of 2014